- Begin with an end in mind: What is it that you are looking to gain? Most often the pitch is used as a tool to capture enough interest to warrant a formal
- Sell, Sell, Sell: What are you really selling? You are selling yourself! You're selling your dream. Be confident and show your passion.
- Keep it simple: You should deliver a clear, compelling and simple image of your opportunity that is easy to remember and repeat. You want the audience to say, "I get it!"
- Image is everything: The pitch must implant a clear image of your opportunity in the mind of the audience. [Jim's Toosense: If image is everything, why not use images ... real images, pictures, graphs, maps, diagrams, et al ... a picture is worth at least a kiloword!]
- Adapt your presentation to the audience: The same pitch you use for an investor might not be the same as to a supplier. (For the sake of simplicity, the term audience is used in a generic sense to include an investor, supplier, employee, customer or even a judge in a competition.)
- Lay out the benefits: Demonstrate how your business will impact consumers and showcase the return to the investors. [Jim's Toosense: "Benefits" to the audience ... what's in it for them?]
- Differentiate yourself from the competition: Focus on outlining the special features of your product/service that gives you the edge over the competition. Time permitting, summarize the competitors and insert facts or statistics where necessary.
- Don't forget the numbers: Depending on the audience, you need to insert a snapshot of your financials and other critical data. For example, "In year three we expect to capture 3 percent of the market, giving us $30 million in sales revenue." Investors also want to know the amount of investment you need and the return on investment (ROI). [Jim's Toosense: the author of the article wrote "...we expect to capture..." ... I strongly suggest changing that to "...we will capture ... let us show you how"!]
- Be memorable: Use your creativity and imagination. Put a tag on it! For example: Chevy - Like a rock. Nike - Just do it! BMW - The ultimate driving machine.
- Conclude with a call to action: For example, "Thank you for the opportunity to pitch my idea. I'd be interested to provide greater detail over a lunch." The best pitch is useless without any follow-up action.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! While there are always a few naturally gifted speakers out there, the more you rehearse your pitch the more natural it will flow and the more confident you will appear. Remember that showing confidence and passion helps sell your idea.
- Don't give up: Some people may not understand your opportunity at first, so don't get discouraged or quit. Walt Disney pitched his idea for Mickey Mouse to more than 300 banks before he received funding.
- Formatting the Pitch ... No matter what your business opportunity might be, you need to have a format for the pitch. While there are certainly countless ways to format the pitch, I strongly urge you to consider the following example. It's brilliant! I only wish I could take credit, however it was presented by renowned business strategist Geoffrey Moore in his best selling book "Crossing the Chasm." You may have noticed that many TV commercials currently use a rendition of his format.
Jim's Toosense ... Give them a takeaway ... certainly your business card(s) at the least, but how about giving them a marketing brochure, a catalog, a menu, something that reflects the business you're in! Should you give them your executive summary? Yes, if they are investor types. Should you give them your full business plan ... that's up to you. Might be too early in the game. The purpose of an elevator pitch is usually to get another meeting, a longer meeting to discuss your venture in detail. That might be a better time to give them your full plan (if appropriate).
[Troy Byrd, edited by Jim Jindrick]